Michigan Drops the Ball on Iron Man 3
7 months ago Marvel wanted to film The Avengers in Michigan, but chose Ohio. Now, Michigan has repeated past mistakes and have lost Iron Man 3 to North Carolina.
According to the Detroit Free Press Marvel Studios had requested to film the next Iron Man film in Michigan, but a change in the incentives program has squashed those plans. Marvel had been requesting incentives to film in the Michigan between $20 million to $30 million. Michigan Film Office started negotiations at $13 million in incentives.
Marvel balked at the low offere and began negotiations with other states. When word got back to the Michigan Film Office that Marvel was shopping Iron Man 3 to other states for a better offer, Michigan upped it's offer to $20 million. The additional funds were meant to match the number that North Carolina had offered Marvel.
In the end Marvel chose North Carolina over Michigan because the $20 million was guaranteed. While Michigan's offer was contingent on future legislative approval according to Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.
"They were more prepared than we were to win that deal," said Richardville, who was critical of the Michigan Film Office's handling of the negotiations. "We were seen as a real player and this is a real blow to that reputation."
The Film Office confirmed the $20-million offer. "We put a competitive and fiscally responsible offer on the table," said Michelle Begnoche.
The rejection shows the difficulty Michigan faces in attracting major movie productions to the state after dropping its generous incentives in favor of a more limited program. Mich. film incentives walk fine line
Marvel Studios' "Iron Man 3" put Michigan's controversial cap on film incentives to the test, revealing the limitations of the new policy.
State economic development officials had said earlier this year that if a blockbuster movie needed more incentives than the $25 million currently allocated, then requests for the additional money would be brought before the Legislature.
"There is some learning that has to be done if we want to be competitive," said Richardville, noting that big movie studios are not going to engage in nickel-and-dime negotiations with a state when they have so many competing offers to choose from."
Under the $25-million cap, Michigan has only $1.4 million left to award by Friday, the end of the state's fiscal year.
So far this year, it has approved $23.6 million in incentives for 19 projects, none of them Hollywood blockbusters. The largest incentive went to "Five Year Engagement," which will get $5.3 million for spending $12.5 million in the state.
The third installment of the "Iron Man" franchise, starring Robert Downey Jr. as comic book hero Tony Stark, is scheduled for release in May 2013. It would have been a boon to Raleigh Michigan Studios, the $80-million Pontiac moviemaking facility that opened in the spring. It is trying to attract other productions for its seven sound stages that are currently being used by the $105-million Disney prequel "Oz: The Great and Powerful."
Marvel Studios "was strongly considering us," said Anthony Wenson, director of studio operations for Raleigh Michigan. He said "Iron Man 3" would have used the studio's sound stages, but also planned to film scenes in other parts of metro Detroit.
Marvel did not return requests seeking comment, but Richardville estimated that "Iron Man 3" could have generated $60 million in direct spending in the state. Marvel spent an estimated $200 million on last year's "Iron Man 2," which was mostly filmed in southern California, according to IMDb.com.
This is the second major superhero movie that has opted not to film in Michigan. In February, Marvel chose Ohio over Michigan for the filming of part of "The Avengers" after it could not get the incentives it wanted from the Michigan Film Office. "We didn't seem to have learned from the first one," Richardville said, referring to "The Avengers."